It all started with an image on a television screen one night in late May 2006, as I watched a documentary film about road movies. Right there on my TV, on a sunny day in the middle of nowhere—probably Idaho or eastern Oregon—I watched an old pickup truck pull onto the side of the road to offer a ride to a young hitchhiker. Without any verbal communication between the hitchhiker and the driver, the anonymous pedestrian swiftly hopped into the back of the truck with his camcorder in hand, and off he went to document his travels to anywhere and everywhere.
At least that’s how I remember the scene.
These few seconds of visual imagery from the documentary Wanderlust changed my life in an instant, planting a seed in my mind. This moment represented the birth of a new reality for me, flooding me with so much inspiration that I couldn’t even watch the rest of the movie.
Immediately I began to envision what it might be like to hit the road like the young man in the movie. Instead of continuing to waste my life waiting for something that was never going to happen, it was time for me to create a new environment; time to make something happen for myself. Instead of just dropping out of society and becoming a garden variety bum, it was time for me to drop into society and become a bum with a camera. It was time to bring back the lost American pastime of thumbing it; time for me to go out and find the story of early 21st-century America.
I began seeing a new movie within my head. I imagined uniquely American landscapes and uniquely American characters. Vast, open spaces and neverending cities. Large green signs with the names of hundreds of towns and burgs flying by overhead. [Note to self: One more descriptive sentence here.]
So I guess I was destined to hit the road on foot with a camcorder and a backpack full of life’s basic necessities. I wanted to go out and meet the American people, see American cities. I wanted to find out what this country is all about, relying only on the kindness of strangers to keep me alive. And I wanted to capture it all on videotape so I could eventually show this country itself in a no-budget documentary called Aimless.
In essence, I wanted to make something out of nothing.